re·​con·​nais·​sance | \ri-ˈkä-nə-zən(t)s, -sən(t)s\

Definition of reconnaissance 

: a preliminary survey to gain information especially : an exploratory military survey of enemy territory

Examples of reconnaissance in a Sentence

There are two helicopters available for reconnaissance. They did a reconnaissance of the enemy's position.

Recent Examples on the Web

The Russian Il-20 military reconnaissance aircraft was downed by Syrian air defenses that mistook it for an Israeli aircraft, killing all 15 people on board. Nataliya Vasilyeva, The Seattle Times, "Russia to provide Syria with new S-300 air defense missiles," 25 Sep. 2018 This proved useful for weather reconnaissance and, around the world, to sample the upper atmosphere for evidence of nuclear debris where US officials suspected the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Three high-flying birds soar together for the first time since the 1970s," 11 Nov. 2018 The Griffin is a variant of the British Army’s Ajax reconnaissance vehicle, and a previous iteration was introduced for the Army’s light tank project. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "One of These 3 Tanks Will Replace the U.S. Army’s M2 Bradley," 10 Oct. 2018 Dozens of refueling, reconnaissance, escort and jamming aircraft were airborne. Author: Thomas Gibbons Neff, Anchorage Daily News, "Missile strikes are unlikely to stop Syria’s chemical attacks, Pentagon says," 19 Apr. 2018 The 29th Combat Aviation Brigade controlled 120 aircraft — including attack, utility, cargo and medical evacuation helicopters, as well as other manned and unmanned reconnaissance, surveillance and war planes. Colin Campbell,, "Hogan welcomes home Maryland National Guard troops in Aberdeen," 15 Apr. 2018 So, as each team conducted all-important reconnaissance of the pavé sectors, riders and directors also conducted rigorous equipment tests. Joshua Robinson, WSJ, "The Biggest Booby-Trap at the Tour de France: Cobblestone Roads," 13 July 2018 Once in, Alexsey Belan—a co-defendant hacker already wanted in the United States for a series of intrusions into the networks of e-commerce providers—is alleged to have conducted reconnaissance of Yahoo's networks. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Yahoo hacker whose work compromised 500M accounts sentenced to 5 years," 29 May 2018 Historic England, another public body, has dispatched aerial reconnaissance teams from bases in York and Swindon to scour the country for Roman villas and prehistoric forts. The Economist, "Dry weather is helping archaeologists discover ancient sites," 12 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'reconnaissance.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of reconnaissance

1779, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for reconnaissance

French, literally, recognition, from Middle French reconoissance, from Old French reconoistre to recognize

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Statistics for reconnaissance

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

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The first known use of reconnaissance was in 1779

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More Definitions for reconnaissance



English Language Learners Definition of reconnaissance

: military activity in which soldiers, airplanes, etc., are sent to find out information about an enemy


re·​con·​nais·​sance | \ri-ˈkä-nə-zəns \

Kids Definition of reconnaissance

: a survey (as of enemy territory) to get information

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